Our Galapagos Story

A tale of romance, exploration, and a deep connection to nature.

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A journey of purpose and passion

In 2003, Stephanie Bonham Carter (Ecuadorian-British) and Michael Mesdag (Dutch-Spanish) embarked on a journey across the Four Worlds of Ecuador. Upon arriving in the Galapagos Islands, they encountered an opportunity that would not only change their lives but also change the way travelers experience the Galapagos Islands.

Built on a dream

While exploring the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, they stumbled upon a farm bordering the Galapagos National Park that was up for sale. After climbing a tree to get a better look at the lay of the land, they were captivated by the incredible views. The magic of the moment was undeniable. It was intoxicating and overwhelming in its uniqueness: a Galapagos experience that defied description. From that moment on, their hearts were captured.

A way of life

They purchased the land and embarked on a journey to make their dream a reality – a sanctuary for likeminded travelers who are inspired by nature and seek meaningful life experiences.

Living in what is now the Family Suite, they raised their two children on the farm while creating the camp and managing the business. It became a way of life that connected them to the land and a way of life that would ultimately define Galapagos Safari Camp’s Pillars of Appropriate Luxury: connection, authenticity and hospitality.

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Redefining Luxury

In the early 2000s, options for luxury land-based tours in the Galapagos were notably limited. If you sought comfort, a cruise was your only option. Even then, the cruise experience paled in comparison to the personalized, immersive experiences that discerning travelers could enjoy in other wildlife destinations and national parks around the world. Notably, in Africa, where Michael and Stephanie had been on safari. They were enchanted by the untamed wilderness and the romantic spirit of adventure, reminiscent of the timeless allure depicted in the 1985 film, ‘Out of Africa’.

A Journey of Firsts

Galapagos Safari Camp marked a significant shift in the Galapagos tourism landscape, offering an alternative and unique approach to experiencing the Galapagos Islands. Michael and Stephanie introduced flexible and personalized Safaris that combined land-based activities not possible on a cruise with day trips by boat to uninhabited islands. With a strong emphasis on appropriate luxury and sustainable hospitality, their Safaris offer a more immersive experience, affording their guests a greater sense of place.

By creating the right conditions, their goal was, and still is, to create meaningful and unforgettable experiences so that their guests can form a deep connection with the islands, just as they have.

More Firsts!

The First Galapagos Chocolate Bar
The First Geo-Membrane Water Reservoir

Slow and steady wins the race

Giant tortoises have evolved over centuries to adapt to their surroundings. Similarly, Galapagos Safari Camp has adapted over the decades to an ever-evolving travel industry. As a small business, we are mindful of every step we take, ensuring we never lose sight of our core values, vision and goals.

Now that Michael and Stephanie’s children are older, and have their own evolving needs, the family is no longer based at the camp. However, the founders remain very hands-on, continuing to oversee every aspect of the business. They are also very proud of their team, both at camp and HQ in Quito, who are frequently praised in guest reviews and press articles.

Begin your journey with us

As Michael and Stephanie climbed down from the tree and began to realize their dream— and just as you will discover as you explore with us — the Galapagos Islands challenge us all on many levels. They are powerful in their raw, volcanic beauty. Their legacy holds lessons for us all. The fearlessness of their creatures is unlike anything you will have encountered.

Challenges await, as do adventures, with stories to capture and cherish, share, and inspire.